Gender Equality and Economic Growth in South Africa.


This week on our echoes from around the world we are looking at South Africa.

Even though South Africa is one of the most developed countries in Africa, they still face gender equality issues.

When women live below the poverty line and are unable to work or contribute socially it prevents the economy from reaching its highest potential.

Gender Equality reflects in every sector of the economy. For example, a World Bank research shows that 37% of women in the Sub-Saharan region of Africa have a bank account compared to 48% of men. In the absence of genuine intervention, this gender gap will continue to widen in many African countries.

In South Africa in the area of technology, the number of females that graduate from Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) related degrees is still very low. The reason for this is due to the fact that there is a huge wage gap and discrimination against female STEM graduates. We also know that they are not well recognized for their jobs, as well as their contributions to  the growth of their companies and the economy.

We also see women in the agricultural sector in South Africa suffer a great deal of inequality when it comes to  access to finance as well as agricultural inputs such as seeds, fertilizers, water and transportation to and from the markets and farms. This has resulted in majority of the women  engaging in subsistence farming due to limited access to resources and technical assistance.

In general, inadequate female representation in the workplace as well as in leadership positions continues to be a barrier to Gender Equality in South Africa. Economists have observed that a 10% reduction in gender gap in both representation and payroll will alleviate poverty for low income earners, which in return helps to boost the economic growth of South Africa. This is also in line with the observation of the chief Economist of PWC  Africa, Lullu Krugel who said: “Enormous economic opportunity lies in promoting gender workforce equality”. This should be the new focus of African Governments and the Africa Union Commission (AUC) as we move towards the end of the second decade of the 21st century.

Written by Orejesu Ajayi

  1. There is no doubt that wherever gender equality exists, the economic strength of such place is under great strain. I still feel gender inequality is not just a South African issue, it’s peculiar to the African continent. Your last sentence should be the new culture.

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